Search for Health Information You Need

Medications Causing Sexual Side Effects

A number of commonly used medications, from cold and flu relief capsules to prescription muscle relaxants, can hamper one or more of the three phases of sexuality, i.e. desire, arousal and orgasm, in some sensitive individuals. Therefore, it is not surprising that approximately 25% of all cases of erectile dysfunction are drug-induced. In this post you will find a list of some of the most common sexuality squelchers. Even if you have doubts about sexual side effects of a certain medication, continue taking it until you talk to your doctor. The problem can often be resolved by adjusting the dosage or switching to an alternative treatment. Keep in mind, though, that most people do not experience sexual side effects from medications, but if they do occur, they usually clear up within a week or two of discontinuing the treatment.

Antidepressants. Some medications prescribed to treat depression have sedative properties and have been reported to decrease sex drive in some men and women and cause problems with erections in a small number of men. However, it is difficult to determine how much of the problem is due to the side effects of the medication and how much to the underlying depression. Amitriptyline, desipramine, doxepin, fluoxetine, imipramine, maprotiline, nortriptyline, paroxetine, phenelzine, protriptyline, sertraline and trimipramine have all caused sexual side effects in some individuals. But you should not assume that just because one antidepressant causes a problem, all others will too. Bupropion and trazodone, for instance, are two antidepressants that are unlikely to cause sexual side effects and may even help some people. Furthermore, dapoxetine is an antidepressant drug that has been approved for the treatment of premature ejaculation and to this day it is the only medication indicated for the treatment of this sexual dysfunction.

Antihistamines. Drying and sedating properties of these medications may occasionally interfere with sexual arousal in both women and men. For example, phenylpropanolamine can inhibit vaginal lubrication by drying up mucus membranes and inhibit erections by obstructing blood flow to the penis.

H2-receptor antagonists. The anti-ulcer medication cimetidine, which blocks the action of histamine in the stomach, has been reported to cause erectile problems and lower libido in some patients. This negative side effect is due to the drug’s ability to inhibit the activity of the male hormones called androgens, responsible for sex drive. Ranitidine, another drug from the same category, treats ulcers just as effectively as cimetidine, but it is less likely to cause sexual side effects.

High blood pressure medications include different categories of drugs such as ACE inhibitors, adrenergic receptor antagonists, aldosterone receptor antagonists, alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonists, angiotensin II receptor antagonists, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, endothelin receptor blockers, renin inhibitors and vasodilators. Many of them are taken daily by older people and can dampen their libido and cause impotence. Clonidine, methyldopa and spironolactone seem to be the worst offenders within this category of drugs.

Muscle relaxants and tranquilizers. Certain common antianxiety medications, such as alprazolam, diazepam and chlordiazepoxide, as well as muscle relaxants, like cyclobenzaprine, can decrease sexual desire and inhibit orgasm for both men and women.

Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy. Numerous birth control pills and certain hormone replacement regimens include hormone progesterone, which can interfere with the production of male hormone testosterone responsible for sex drive in both males and females. Progesterone is actually used in judicial chemical castration to treat sex offenders. Switching to a low- or no-progesterone preparation should help solve the problem with low libido in women on birth control pills.

Other medications. Other drugs with sexual side effects include antipsychotics, such as chlorpromazine and haloperidol, used to treat schizophrenia; medications for Parkinson’s disease, such as benztropine, biperiden and trihexyphenidyl; naproxen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication prescribed to relieve aching muscles and joints; medications for treating enlarged prostates and prostate cancer, such as dutasteride, finasteride and flutamide; some chemotherapy drugs like busulfan and cyclophosphamide; and various other drugs from different therapeutic groups, such as clofibrate, metoclopramide, metronidazole and phenytoin.

Where to Get More Information: HowmoneBalance.org from 2007 but still worth reading.